Patti Smith Photography

Patti Smith

Patti Smith is a legendary writer, performer, and visual artist who ranks among the most influential female musicians of all time, especially in New York’s early punk rock scene. Initially a performance poet, Smith gave her first public reading in 1971. After experimenting with setting her poetry to music, she formed the Patti Smith Group in 1974.

She was a frequent performer at club CBGB in the Bowery and was among the first artists of the era to release an album. Signed by Clive Davis to his fledgling Arista label, Smith’s debut, Horses, is considered a definitive early punk rock album, and was a huge commercial and critical success. Often cited as “the Godmother of Punk music,” Smith’s biggest hit is 1978’s “Because the Night,” which was co-written with Bruce Springsteen.

In 1980, Smith married MC5 guitarist Fred “Sonic” Smith and disappeared from the public eye. For the next 17 years, she focused on raising her two children, but returned to music after Sonic’s untimely passing in 1994. Smith was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, and is number 47 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of “100 Greatest Artists.”

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